written by Devona Walker
While President Obama was still giving his State of the Union address, Fox News’ website had already posted this headline: Obama Urges New Spending. Guess that’s not surprising. What was surprising is that he put so much out there for his critics to chew on.
After four years, much of that time spent dodging political bullets, Obama was surprisingly self confident and task-oriented. He was nothing like the young idealist we met a little more than four years ago, that hope and change rhetoric he traded for strategy and salesmanship. He was nothing like the defensive steward we saw subsequent to the 2010 midterms. It’s almost as if he was speaking about his own policy priorities without playing preemptive defense against the GOP.
“Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants,” President Obama said. “And right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
In addition to comprehensive immigration reform, Obama vowed to tackle gun control, voting rights, raising the minimum wage, climate change, benefits for families of gay soldiers, bringing the troops home from Afghanistan, equal pay for women and cyber security. In addition, there were several issues — investing in education, reeducating the American workforce, creating private-public economic partnerships, tax incentives for employers who hire American workers and disincentives for employers who shift operations abroad, creating manufacturing and universal pre-school — that sounded a whole lot like spending.
For policy geeks like myself, it was the perfect speech. He skillfully took hot button issues and made business and economic arguments for them. He took multiple shots over the bow to intransigent Republicans without once mentioning them by name. He laid out an elaborate policy agenda, while threatening Congress that if they choose not to act, then he will do what he can on his own by using Executive Orders. But most importantly he offered a bold, aggressive and big vision for what American can be in the future.
If Obama gets a fraction of what he laid out in the State of the Union address done, he will go down as the most transformational president of our century… if he gets it all done, I think we should collectively reclaim “Barack the Magic Negro,” (the name the right used in 2008 to denigrate him).
“We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence,” Obama said. “Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science, and act before it’s too late.”
“Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote,” the president said. “Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.”
“We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote,” Obama said. “When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals.”
“Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made — putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years,” he said. “Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship — a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.”
Devona Walker is the politics editor for The Burton Wire.